Corporate Political Spending And Other Studies

Yesterday, Broc Romanek wrote this post about a new study from the Center for Political Accountability and the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.  This study focused on the political spending disclosure behavior of the top 200 companies in the S&P 500 Index.

Harvard Law School Professor Lucian Bebchuk has recently produced an advocacy paper making the case for the Securities and Exchange Commission to adopt rules requiring public companies to make disclosure.  The paper (which can be downloaded here) is forthcoming in The Georgetown Law Journal.  

Readers may recall that in August 2011, Professor Bebchuk and nine other academics submitted a petition to the SEC seeking adoption of a political spending disclosure rule. As I reported in this post, the SEC has received over a quarter of a million comments on the petition, including this letter submitted by me.  Professor Bebchuk’s article cites my letter several times, and includes the following rebuttal (footnote omitted):

Among others, Keith Paul Bishop, the former California Commissioner of Corporations, advanced this argument in comments to the SEC opposing the Petition. Even if the marginal burdens imposed by a rule on corporate political spending are minimal, these critics argue, disclosure rules now cumulatively impose substantial burdens on public companies, and the SEC should not add to these burdens by requiring additional disclosure on political spending.

The expense associated with disclosing corporate spending on politics does not provide a basis for opposing disclosure rules in this area. For one thing, most companies have already collected detailed information about their political spending for use by the company’s key decisionmakers. To the extent that some firms have not done so, this reflects an obvious flaw in the firm’s internal reporting system, given the potential benefits, costs, and risks related to such spending. Since most companies already have this information available, however, the costs of providing this information to shareholders are not sufficient to justify keeping this information from investors.

While it is true that not every straw will break the camel’s back, eventually one will.

Why is the NCAA Sanctioning This Elite California School (Not USC)

I’ve written about Justice William Bedsworth’s column, A Criminal Waste of Space, before.  If you’re not familiar with it, now is the time to introduce yourself to it and find out why the NCAA is picking on one of California’s most prestigious institutions.  Here’s a link to the article.


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